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Dublin: 18 °C Saturday 8 August, 2020

PSNI says mortar tube and command wire find may have prevented dissident republican attack

The items were discovered in Co Down by a member of the public yesterday.

Castlewellan Close up photo of of the discovered device Source: PSNI

THE PSNI BELIEVES the discovered of a horizontal mortar tube and command wire recovered during a security operation in Co Down has prevented an attack on local police by dissident republicans.

The items were discovered on the Drumnaquoile Road in Castlewellan by a member of the public before 3pm yesterday. 

The PSNI implemented a full and extensive clearance operation in the area following the discovery. The operation concluded this afternoon and nothing further has been found. 

The mortar tube and command wire will now be subject to a detailed forensic examination. 

The PSNI’s initial assessment is the items, which are in a fairly good condition relative to other similar devices they have uncovered, had not been at that location for very long. 

The force said they could have been there for as little as one day. 

“While at this stage it is too early to attribute ownership to any particular grouping, it is my belief that dissident republican terrorists are responsible and that this find has undoubtedly prevented an attack on local police,” Detective Inspector Orr of the Crime Operations Terrorism Investigation Unit said. 

Castlewellan 3 crop A photo of the scene of the discovery Source: PSNI

SDLP MLA Colin McGrath had condemned the findings.

“This device could have brought serious harm to the people of our area and or PSNI personnel. This was a disgraceful attempt to murder or injure most probably a passing PSNI patrol,” McGrath said.

This place had no place in the 70s or 80s and it certainly has no place now. People have moved on and these types of actions are not acceptable and have no support in our community. 

“Those responsible need to accept that they progress no one’s agenda but their own and the wider community will condemn this activity and call for it to cease.”

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The PSNI is now appealing for local people to help them identify those responsible for “leaving the device so close to a public road and to come forward to any information they may have”. 

“We know that the vast majority of people support our police officers and simply want to live in a peaceful society. We will continue to work with communities to disrupt the activities of the small group of people who are intent on using violence,” Detective Inspector Orr said. 

Anyone who knows anything that can assist the investigation is being asked to call 101, quoting reference 721 09/04/19. 

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